Item 1206 - Closing Address by Nelson Mandela to the Financial Services Conference convened by INVESTEC Securities Research on: " Competing in the 21st Century".

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ZA COM MR-S-1206


Closing Address by Nelson Mandela to the Financial Services Conference convened by INVESTEC Securities Research on: " Competing in the 21st Century".


  • 2000-06-28 (Creation)

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Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

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(18 July 1918-5 December 2013)

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Migrated from the Nelson Mandela Speeches Database (Sep-2018).

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Financial Services Conference convened by INVESTEC Securities Research on: " Competing in the 21st Century".

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  • English

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It is a great honour for a poor, unemployed old man to be able to mix with such august captains of finance, and I wish to thank you most sincerely for the invitation to address this gathering.

There are many things about the modern world that leaves me, as a simple country boy, in speechless wonderment. The amazing scientific advances made, the phenomenal progress in technology, the manner in which modern transport and communications had shrunk the world, are but a few of these.

Perhaps not as spectacular as those, and yet to me a continuing source of marvel at humankind's ingenuity, are the establishment, expansion and maintenance of trade links amongst people and nations across the globe. The flow of goods and capital, the buying and selling amongst nations, represent probably the strongest interconnection amongst people throughout the planet. To be at this conference where financial services, the backbone to such global interaction, is being discussed, is therefore a singular privilege.

That this conference on competing in the 21st century focuses on the financial services industry in South Africa, is even more gratifying.

Historically, South Africa has played a role on the world stage way beyond its size. This is still true today, primarily because in many ways we are seen as a pilot or test case. We are grappling with issues, and finding solutions to problems, that in one way or the other have bedevilled our world - racism, colonialism, poverty, gender discrimination, underdevelopment, a great divide between the rich and the poor, and the terrible scourge of HIV/AIDS.

In many respects we represent a microcosm of the major challenges the world faces, and it is understandable that the world watches and waits for the outcome.

If South Africa in some respects is a microcosm of the world, it is an expression of the way that the world is interdependent and interlinked. The world financial community itself experienced some of the disastrous consequences of that interdependence a few years ago with the Asian crisis. What happened in one part of the world sent shock waves throughout the entire world, especially hitting hard at the economies of the developing world.

While global economic activity has recovered and expanded beyond expectation since then, and the outlook for world economic growth has significantly improved, the need to address the concerns, issues and risks that the crisis alerted us to, remains.

The challenges we face from the continuing technological and financial innovation are enormous. Unprecedented opportunities await those who have the skill, vision and resources to take advantage of these ongoing developments. The question, though, is whether we all have equal access to the opportunities and resources of this rapidly changing world.
Does an African child in Mozambique, Ghana or Nigeria have access to computer technology, the Internet, or to the knowledge and skills that come with such access? Is one of the consequences of the changes taking place a further increase in the already enormous gap between those in the world who have, and those who have not? And if the answer is yes — as I suspect it is — do we just accept this as inevitable or do we have the responsibility to assist developing countries to catch up?

I am currently involved as facilitator in the peace process in Burundi, a country that has inflicted much suffering upon itself through bloody internecine conflict. We are making very good progress in the negotiations and I expect a formal agreement to be concluded in the not too distant future. At the heart of that conflict, however, is not merely ethnic rivalry, but a desperate competition over resources in a poor and underdeveloped country.

I have therefore committed myself to the people of Burundi that if they were to conclude and hold to a peace agreement, I would personally mobilise the international community to invest in the economic and social development of their country. I would like to make that a challenge to the financial services and other economic forces of the world: let us make of this a showcase and example of peace paying off.

The sad irony of our world is that there is no shortage of money, but the movement of money is not directed by social purposes. Burundi, I suggest, could be a starting point in that direction.

South Africa itself, though also hard hit by the Asian crisis at a point that we could least afford such a set-back, can look back to that period with some pride. It was one of the emerging markets that came out of that crisis best. A major reason for that was that the quality of economic management in the country and that the macro-economic fundamentals are sound.
That this trend continues is testified to by the fact that the rating agencies Standard and Poors and Moody's have both given South Africa an investment rating. Many other aspects of the macro-economic policy are showing positive results; a few examples of these would be the following:
• fiscal policy has reduced the deficit before borrowing to 2,8%
• trade continues to expand with a focus on exports
• the current account deficit stands at around 0,5% of GDP
• exchange controls are steadily being removed
• the government's debt to GDP ratio stands at 48% and the country's external debt at only 30% of GDP
• revenue collections continue to exceed targets, so that significant tax reductions, both corporate and personal, have been made
• a sound regulatory and supervisory regime is in place, well established insolvency legislation and a highly regarded accounting practice.

The objective is financial stability in order to achieve our full growth potential and create employment opportunities for all our people. In this regard, we are privileged to have a sound system of financial institutions and markets. We recognise the important contribution they can make, and do make, in ensuring financial stability.

For the growth of our economy, trade and capital flows are crucial and the financial services are central facilitators in this process. The system of financial services is in many respects the window through which the outside world gauges our suitability for capital investment. It is therefore with such pride that I can commend our financial institutions and systems as a key component in the soundness of our economic fundamentals.

I am assured that our regulatory and supervisory authorities are determined to be on par with international best practices. Given the rapidly changing nature of both institutions and products in financial services, South Africa has ensured close cooperation between the domestic financial regulators, particularly with regard to regulation of complex groups, as well as increased cooperation with international regulators.

This sound environment has been recognised by the recently completed Financial Stability Assessment Programme undertaken by the IMF and the World Bank.

South Africa is important not only to itself and its own citizens, but also within the context of Southern Africa and, indeed, of Africa. The South African Reserve bank and the regulatory authorities therefore work closely with their counterparts within SADC. Significant progress is being made to harmonise regulatory frameworks and legislation, codes of conduct and payment systems.

To conclude, Mr Chairman.

Many of you here today are key decision-makers about where to invest. All of you have a view of South Africa, indeed about the African continent.

As I said earlier, I am but a simple country boy. I am often told that investment decisions are not based on considerations of justice; on knowing how hard a people have struggled to win their freedom and dignity, and to be recognised for one's intrinsic worth. I am old enough, too, to know that the motivation is one of reward, of profit.

I am also a very proud South African. We are an innovative, hardworking and enterprising nation. We have laid the solid foundations for a sustainable democracy. Investing in South Africa will indeed provide you with the opportunity to maximise your profits. At the same time investment will contribute to the consolidation and growth of what has often been termed the South African miracle.

What better reward, asks the simple country boy in me, can anyone have than to make the profits you desire while at the same time contributing to the betterment of humankind? This is certainly in the interests of us all, as globalisation means an integrated world in terms of both opportunities and responsibilities.

I am certain that your exposure to the excellence of our financial services during this conference would have served as a major assurance that South Africa is indeed worth investing in.

I thank you.

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Acquisition method: Hardcopy ; Source: ANC Archives, Office of the ANC President, Nelson Mandela Papers, University of Fort Hare. Accessioned on 20/01/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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